•Considers issuing visas to investors on arrival
Dele Ogbodo and Kasim Sumaina in Abuja
The federal government on Tuesday unveiled 28 residence permit card tracking centres for expatriates and foreigners in the country, with the view to seamlessly monitoring their movements within the country.
This came as it disclosed that plans were underway to introduce visa at entry points as part of efforts to eradicate bureaucracy hindering the influx of foreign investors into the country.
The over-riding objective of the unveiling of 28 residence permit card tracking centres for expatriates and foreigners, government said, is to use the centres to monitor and track the effectiveness of inflow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDIs) into the country.
The biometric security card device would be installed across airports and border control posts which would keep track, monitor and detect wanted international criminals.
Unveiling the facilities in Abuja, the Minister of Interior, Lt. Gen Abdulrahman Dambazzau (rtd), said the 28 new CERPAC production centre and 28 operational vehicles will enhance the capacity of the Nigerian Immigration Service (NIS) to discharge its statutory duty of internal monitoring and control of foreigners within the country.
According to him, with the total trackers of 36 centres across the country, the NIS is expected to deliver improved services to deserving expatriates.
The minister said the technology, if fully operational, would generate a database of travelers that will be linked to the Interpol database to track the movement of wanted persons in the country for easy arrest of such suspects.
“It is therefore heartwarming to note that all the states of the federation, except Yobe and Borno, now have CERPAC production centre each,” Dambazzau said.
The minister stressed that it is part of the government’s resolve to enhance efficient service delivery with a view to creating the enabling environment for attracting FDIs into the country
He said the ministry approved the establishment of 28 additional CERPAC production centres spread across the state capitals to actualise the dream of making CERPAC facilities more accessible to stakeholders whose interests government needs to protect.
In his remarks, the Comptroller-General of NIS, Mohammed Babandede, said the service personnel in charge of the CERPAC production centres would be given timelines within which to deliver the cards, stressing that the objective of the new centres is to bring the service closer to the people.
Also, the acting Managing Director of CONTEC, Farida Ali Ahmed, who presented the vehicles to the minister, remarked that the centres are equipped with all necessary machines to make them deliver services to the public.
Meanwhile, Vice President Yemi Osinbajo yesterday hinted were underway to introduce visa at entry points in the country.
Speaking at a public presentation and first annual lecture of The Interview Magazine, with the theme: ‘Why Start-Ups Fail and Strategies to Save Them’ in Abuja, Osinbajo in his special address at the event disclosed that government’s mandate is to provide enabling environment for start-up businesses.
According to him, “The question of an enabling business environment is solely the business of government. The business of government is to create the right environment for start-ups and the right environment for doing business.”
He noted that the problem experienced in Nigeria is “that our normal processes are needlessly difficult,” adding that bureaucrats are generally get caught in seeing the process as an ending itself, not as a means to an end.
Osibanjo stressed that one of the chief aims of the current government is to create an enabling environment for doing business, saying about a month ago, President Muhammadu Buhari inaugurated the enabling business environment committee and that the mandate of the committee which was given to the Minister of Industry, Trade and Investment is that “Nigeria must go up on World Bank doing business list. The mandate is to go 50 spaces up before the end of 2017.”
Speaking further, the vice-president stated that the current administration had concluded plans to introduce visa at entry points to the country.
“One of the critical issues especially for foreign businesses is even coming to Nigeria, being able to get visas to come to Nigeria for foreign business in particular.
“I remember speaking with the ambassador of one the western countries and my complaints was that it was taking too long for Nigerians to get their visa to go abroad; businessmen were finding it difficult to obtain their visa; there were so many difficulties, and the gentleman politely reminded me that it takes possibly double the time to get a Nigeria visa to come into Nigeria, fir any businessman coming from his own country.”
He added that: “The truth of the matter is that our processes are far too difficult, too flooded with all manner of bottlenecks and there is a need for us to free up those processes. Most countries that have succeeded in attracting foreign investment have had to take a look at their processes for letting people into their country.”
Osibanjo disclosed that one of the important innovations that will be introduced is that of visa on arrival-getting visa on arrival. “Now visa on arrival process is one that is already in the regulations which usually involves applying ahead and then just picking up the visa.
“But the actual visa on arrival process that we think will free up the process is one where you are enabled to get your visa on arrival, making your applications here and getting visa on arrival,” he stated.